CAPS provides shelter this winter

Published 8:34 pm Friday, November 29, 2019

The Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk recently began the seventh season of its Night Stay Winter Shelter Program, offering hot meals and a warm place to sleep for those in need these cold winter months.

The Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk, or CAPS, is a network of churches and organizations that work together to alleviate poverty and develop the Suffolk community by sharing resources, information and support, according to

More than two dozen churches participate in CAPS, with support from 230-plus volunteers since August 2012, according to

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The Night Stay Program is a rotating night shelter for people experiencing homelessness in the winter months. Churches take turns hosting the program a week at a time, opening their doors to provide shelter, food, safety and “a listening ear to our neighbors,” according to

There are 19 different host and co-host churches for the Night Stay Program this year, from mid-November to mid-April, according to Night Stay Administrator Cheryl Griffin. Other partner churches are also providing food, transportation and volunteers to each host church.

West End Baptist Church at 105 Saint James Ave. served as a host church for the Night Stay Program from Nov. 13-20. The church had 41 volunteers assist during that week, according to West End Baptist Church Night Stay Coordinator Molly Crow.

West End was joined by volunteers from St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Main Street United Methodist Church to assist homeless during this week, West End Baptist Church Pastor Dale Peterson wrote in an email.

There were 25 beds made for the homeless at West End, with even more in the trailer parked outside. These beds were provided by CAPS, which also provided blankets, sheets, toiletries and a shower trailer parked outside of the church for guests to wash up using bio-degradable soap.

Warm meals are provided for dinner and breakfast to each guest. They also leave with a bagged lunch, which included a sandwich, chips, fruit and a gift card for a downtown eatery.

The members of Girl Scout Troop 357 also put carrots in each lunch bag, to make sure that guests got fresh vegetables.

“Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do it,” West End Night Stay Coordinator Crow said at the church the evening of Nov. 19. “We’ve had some lovely volunteers, (and) really great cooks.”

Crow said that guests were nice and appreciative during West End’s week as a host church, and that helping these people during the cold, dark winter months feels “rewarding.”

“It’s just been really rewarding. It’s nice to see that Suffolk is capable of joining together to do something like this,” she said.

Transportation to the host church is provided from the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, 326 N. Main St., where the bus leaves for that week’s host church at 6:30 p.m. each evening. Homeless individuals with vehicles are also welcome, but must meet nightly at the intake location.

The shelter for each particular week opens at 6:30 p.m., and doors close at 9 p.m., unless prior provisions have been made with the host church. Guests leave by 7 a.m.

Services will not be provided to sex offenders or individuals with alcohol or drugs in their system, according to, and CAPS reserves the right to accept or reject a guest from loading the bus or entering a host church location.

For more information on the CAPS Night Stay Winter Shelter Program, contact Night Stay Administrator Cheryl Griffin at 286-9126 or, or visit